Raised in remote Central Queensland, Australia, Emili Rackemann's love for her rural upbringing never failed in providing her with a creative mind which would soon propel her into the world of composition and performance. One of ten women composers invited to perform at the 2018 International Composers Festival, Emili is finding her way into the hearts and mind of her devotees, bringing women into equilibrium within the world of music composition. While her music sparks a beautiful interconnection between classical contemporary and minimalism, Emili's story-telling trailed with a love for live performance is undoubtedly giving Australian women a voice within the instrumental music scene. "When I compose I feel I am a conduit between spoken word and music. When there is a story to tell, genre become irrelevant" she says. Emili's curiosity for the finer details life offered often propelled her to question ancient history and human evolution. From the Egyptian pyramids to the untold truths of Australian Aboriginal history, Emili wanted to delve deeper than one would expect of a young child. Her love of animals and native history would soon guide her into composing delicate although very powerful music; pieces that encourage listeners to contemplate, forage and observe their own perceptions of reality through the power of sound.
In 1999, Emili pursued classical performance studies at the Conservatorium of Music in Brisbane, Australia, although it wasn’t until ten years later she was encouraged to record her first album which soon set in motion another six future album releases while residing in Melbourne, Australia.
It is fair to say Emili’s uncommon desire for living two diverse lifestyles stemmed from the uniting of her parent’s culturally opposite upbringings. With her grandfather’s played important roles as private secretary for the Australian Prime Minister and police detective and Superintendent of police in Papua New Guinea on her father’s side, Emili was fortunate to be surrounded by both the simplicity of the land and Canberra’s lifestyle with annual visits to see her grandparents.
Emili’s innate being as a pianist may also be explained by her ancestors’ expertise, naming Professor Frederic Rackemann and brother Ludwig of Germany who were highly renowned for their exquisite performances in the United States and Germany during the mid-nineteenth century. In 1839, pianist Ludwig Rackemann was one of the first German pianists to tour America; and in 1842, Ludwig's brother Frederic was also captivating European audiences, playing triple concertos with Felix Mendelssohn and Clara Schumann.
Upon cementing his ties to Lenox, Massachusetts, Frederick embarked on several building projects, The Brook Farm Inn being one of three which hosted Transcendental summer camps organized by Margaret Fuller and Frederic himself. With famous guests such as philosopher and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, American author and poet William George Curtis and Margaret Fuller, the enterprise was considered an ‘unspeakable folly’ by the conservative circle of Boston.
With Emili’s passion to retrace the steps of her long-lost ancestors, in 2013 she travelled to Massachusetts where she performed at the Venfort Mansion in Lenox, hosted by author and historian Cornelia Gilder. Fortunate to stay at the Brook Farm Inn, Emili found herself immersed in the beauty of the Poet’s Room, where she wrote short stories and composed a number of compositions towards her contemporary album titled One, including Faces of Lenox, a simple and delicate work which portrays the history of her ancestors and Lenox itself. "When I arrived at the Poet’s Room, a huge wave of emotion enveloped me. The pristine view of native trees outside my window drew me in, encouraging me to contemplate, meditate and journal my thoughts. To sit in a room with so much history following a performance on the famous Carl Jung’s Bösendorfer piano can only be described as beautiful", she says.
From fictional stories to European history, Emili undoubtedly has struck a chord through capturing the essence of what it means to be a composer. "The stories I compose about can be quite simple, such as Lolly Water. My father said when he was growing up in the town of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, soft drink was named lolly water; so I decided to compose a piece to reflect the joy my father felt when he was allowed to drink lolly water on the rare occasion at a Sunday family tennis match."
Emili is also inspired by the Aboriginal people she was once surrounded by as a young girl. "Another piece I feel a deep connection to is Utopia Cry which was inspired by the Australian documentary Utopia, presented by John Pilger. This work reflects the dysfunction and unspoken sadness within many remote Aboriginal communities."
Bold and incredibly heart driven, Emili’s deep compassion for the animal kingdom has also influenced her music. Her love for animals is beautifully captured in the contemporary work titled The Soldier’s Horse. "We grieve for so many people who were killed in war, but we tend to forget the strength of these powerful animals and what they endured during both World Wars", Emili writes. Not only does her devotedness towards animal welfare show through her music, but also through acts of kindness. Emili contributes a portion of her ticket sales to non-profit animals organisations who are constantly moving forward to make our world a kinder place.
With over one hundred compositions and seven albums, Emili's music invites audiences on a timeless journey. From uncharted history, personal thoughts and fictional stories, her music undoubtedly showcases the brilliance and diversity of her much loved instrument.